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  1. #1
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    New Miracle Approach to Endurance Training?

    I just read an interesting article in this month's issue of Outside about Cross Fit Endurance (related, but distinct from the classic Cross Fit program) which appears to tout the ability to train for endurance events via nearly exclusive of shorter, more intense workouts.

    The author's success with the system was definitely mixed. Personally, I believe that there is a place in every rider's training plan for some intensity, speed, and interval work, but find it hard to believe that I could be prepared for a 10 hour mtb race without at least several 6+ hour training rides.

    Thoughts?

    (Please note that I'm not associated with CrossFit or any other "pay to play" workout/training/coaching plan.)
    Last edited by kosmo; 12-11-2012 at 07:12 AM.
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  2. #2
    Daniel the Dog
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    I do believe that long, slow rides are not great at preparing one for endurance racing. I have read that if you train like that you race like that and I agree with that. I see people in the gym all the time who are doing low intensity work and they look the same for years.

    I think Cross Fit would injure me. I can't do squats and all the other heavy lifts anymore.

    I do believe in High Interval Intensity Training. Racing is so much about getting your heart rate high and keeping it there. It is all about intensity, so training that way seems to make sense.

    I don't know. I don't think 15 minutes of training 3x a week is going to prepare one for a long race. This should be an interesting thread.

    Is this the article: CrossFit Endurance's Unconventional 12-Week Marathon Training Plan | Endurance | OutsideOnline.com
    Last edited by Jaybo; 12-09-2012 at 08:41 AM.

  3. #3
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    A few actual cycling coaches have pointed out that there is not real training goal of CrossFit other than just surviving it. This more or less matches my goal for most endurance races, so there's that.

  4. #4
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    No, it was in the actual magazine, and discussed the program and it's founder, and the author's experience in using it to prepare for a marathon. In short, he did succeed in setting a personal best, but he felt crappy during the event, as he got further and further beyond his pre-event training duration.
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  5. #5
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    If You race long You got to train long there are so Many things other than just muscles on Endurance racing time on be sadle nutrition mind etc

    I do Not Believe there is other way to do it

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    I just read an interesting article in this month's issue of Outside about Cross Fit Endurance which appears to tout the ability to train for endurance events via nearly exclusive of shorter, more intense workouts.
    I think this training plan best works for people who are only moderately in shape. For example, if someone who rides 10 mi, two times a week wants to start racing the best and fastest way to get them in shape is intervals. However, for people who care enough to read the "XC endurance" forum on a mountain biking website, chances are we are in fairly good shape. With that in mind, I think we, as in shape individuals, need the long-slow rides to really be competitive in races.

    Think about it, there's a reason athletes spend so much time building a foundation.
    Something wrong with your bike? Blame it on super human strength and sleep well at night knowing you are more than a man.

  7. #7
    Daniel the Dog
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    You are a good Cat 1 racer

    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    No, it was in the actual magazine, and discussed the program and it's founder, and the author's experience in using it to prepare for a marathon. In short, he did succeed in setting a personal best, but he felt crappy during the event, as he got further and further beyond his pre-event training duration.
    Do you believe this style of training works?

    How can you not feel crappy during a marathon? Sounds freaking miserable

  8. #8
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    8-10hrs of saddle time

    I've got guys who are only trg 8-10hrs per week (in the saddle) and doing very well (or winning) their endurance race events.

    Not sure if that answers the question of 'can it be done?' but I personally know of quite a few who are managing to do it.

    edit: added the phrase (in the saddle). Don't want anyone to think I am commenting on Crossfit as I don't have any athletes doing Crossfit.
    Last edited by staylor; 12-09-2012 at 08:17 PM. Reason: adding a clarifying comment

  9. #9
    Gumnut Peddler
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    I have tried it, it didnt really suit me and it made me stupidly sore which meant less time on the bike. I also noticed that peoples form was also pretty bad through most of the exercises we had to do. I went for a week as part of a free trial I was dragged to, I never went back.

    I have also discovered the following over the last couple of months.

    How do you know if someone you just met does crossfit?
    Because they tell you.

    I dont know if its just me, but people that do Crossfit have to tell everyone they do crossfit. I am yet to see the same thing happen with other kinds of athletes/exercise people. Has anyone else found the same?

    I guess at the end of the day if you had to choose doing something over doing nothing, then it will help improve your overall fitness, which would then help improve your endurance to some degree. IMO though, nothing beats bike hours for endurance on the bike.
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  10. #10
    hispanic mechanic
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    As a bodyworker (massage therapy, Tui Na, athletic work,) I've seen a lot of injuries from CrossFit. As Grinderz said, form tends not to be too much of a focus. So I'm not a fan. Grinderz, love the joke, BTW!
    As a mediocre (at best...) endurance racer who runs his own business, I don't have the time or marital latitude to spend 20-30 hours a week on the bike, so I depend on HIIT. Thing is, as long as I get some long rides in, I feel that HIIT does more for endurance racing than LSD.
    Training your body to recover on the fly makes a huge difference.

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  11. #11
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    Crossfit is good for overall fitness and good for bone density. However, it does not make you better on the bike.

    You do not have to ride for 6+ hrs several times a week to do well in endurance races. There are many people that put in a little more than 8 hrs on the saddle, as staylor mentioned. Many of these people do interval training, hills, recover rides during the week and leave the long rides for the weekends. They also do some other form of training when they have off days from their bike.

  12. #12
    DLd
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    If you only have an hour for your weekday rides, then of course you're going to do some interval work on those rides to get the most out of them, but you're still going to want to do longer rides on the weekends if you want to be competitive. Like someone else has said, you can train like this (Crossfit Endurance) to be able to finish the event. I'll add that you'll have the additional bonus that it will make just finishing feel like a real achievement since you'll be so spent from being so under-prepared

    If I line up late enough at big races I end up passing a lot of Crossfit Endurance riders. I've never been passed by one though...
    "Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion."-Jack Kerouac

  13. #13
    DLd
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowOnO2 View Post
    Crossfit is good for overall fitness and good for bone density. However, it does not make you better on the bike.

    You do not have to ride for 6+ hrs several times a week to do well in endurance races. There are many people that put in a little more than 8 hrs on the saddle, as staylor mentioned. Many of these people do interval training, hills, recover rides during the week and leave the long rides for the weekends. They also do some other form of training when they have off days from their bike.
    You did make me notice that in the article, he doesn't claim that it's better than a real modern cycling training program (which of course incorporates intervals, etc, along with some longer training rides), he just says that it's better than doing only slow, steady-state, workouts, like running 5 miles a day at the same pace every day. Of course you're not going to see big improvements just doing the same thing all the time. I don't think any successful racers are following a plan like that though... Crossfit is a bad fit for XC bike racing IMO (making the assumption that someone wants to do well at it) since you end up building muscle in lots of areas it's not needed for cycling, just extra weight to carry around... I'm not sure what sport benefits from Crossfit, besides Crossfit... It's certainly better than sitting on the couch as long you don't mess yourself up with crappy form, otherwise, you're better off on the couch...
    "Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion."-Jack Kerouac

  14. #14
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    Lots of interesting stuff above. I tend to agree with Los and Sean -- huge time is not the complete answer to endurance training, but some is necessary. For me, that happens during the 6 weeks preceding a target event. Before that, I'm seldom if ever over 12 hours per week (unless I'm lucky enough to be in Moab for a week of true "playing" on the bike!).

    To clarify, my interest is in the Cross Fit ENDURANCE program, which while an offshoot of classic Cross Fit, is not quite the same (I have edited my original post to reflect this).
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  15. #15
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    I'm curious to know what the author's marathon time was before and after Crossfit, and what his training plan was like during the "before" phase. These "less is more" low-mileage cross-training type plans are quite popular among marathoners these days. A really popular one is called FIRST (Furman Institute,) which has people only running 3 days a week, then cross training the other days. They do seem to benefit some people enormously, but it's a pretty specific group, mainly low-mileage runners with modest goal times. Most people who have significant gains seem to be in the 4 hour-plus category. I've never known someone running in the 2:30s on such a plan.

  16. #16
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    My wife just started crossfit and I have been doing some of the workouts that she memorizes and brings home and let me say--even after years on the bike, skateboarding, BMX, SUP, etc.. squats WRECK my legs.

    Core strength goes a long way for most fitness. People who don't have it benefit from these programs. The core drives the body... makes sense. That said, common sense would still seem to apply.

  17. #17
    hispanic mechanic
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    Lots of interesting stuff above. I tend to agree with Los and Sean -- huge time is not the complete answer to endurance training, but some is necessary. For me, that happens during the 6 weeks preceding a target event. Before that, I'm seldom if ever over 12 hours per week (unless I'm lucky enough to be in Moab for a week of true "playing" on the bike!).

    To clarify, my interest is in the Cross Fit ENDURANCE program, which while an offshoot of classic Cross Fit, is not quite the same (I have edited my original post to reflect this).
    I don't think CrossFit Endurance is without benefit, but it's important not to get too wrapped up in the competition aspect of CrossFit in general.
    As mvwmvw said, core strength can give you a decided advantage, especially when the mileage adds up. I'm not familiar enough with the CrossFit Endurance program to know if there's a heavy emphasis on core, but I'd assume so based on their other programs.
    I'm a proponent of TRX suspension training (disclaimer- I'm a TRX-trained instructor,) because of the required focus on core.
    Whatever you end up doing, keep your final goal, racing your bike, in mind. If you feel like any training is going to make that suffer, don't do it!
    Good luck with your off-season.

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  18. #18
    Daniel the Dog
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    I agree

    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    Lots of interesting stuff above. I tend to agree with Los and Sean -- huge time is not the complete answer to endurance training, but some is necessary. For me, that happens during the 6 weeks preceding a target event. Before that, I'm seldom if ever over 12 hours per week (unless I'm lucky enough to be in Moab for a week of true "playing" on the bike!).

    To clarify, my interest is in the Cross Fit ENDURANCE program, which while an offshoot of classic Cross Fit, is not quite the same (I have edited my original post to reflect this).
    Guys are age can't pound away and avoid injury. We need more rest to let the body rest. I burned myself out last summer doing too many events and by the end of summer didn't even want to ride.

    I read the article and think it makes a lot of sense. I am going to read through it again tonight because I was half asleep in bed last night reading. It is very interesting in light of most people's busy schedule.

  19. #19
    Damn Fool
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    Cosmo- I've trained for a couple Mtb centuries and a 12 hour race using the crossfit endurance methodology. I've been training with crossfit for 5 years off and on and would be happy to share what I've learned if you want to shoot me a pm.

    A few quick points....



    One of the things I dislike about the crossfit endurance approach is that you need to be conditioned to crossfit before adding in the bike specific work. I find I need about 3 months of crossfit 3 to 4 days a week before my body is ready to add on the sport specific interval training. This paralells traditional base training, but because I will be sore and the amount of adaptation required, I actually see a slight decline in bike performance. You wind up doing crossfit workouts 4 to 5 days a week with 3 or so sport specific workouts. It takes time to build to that amount of intensity.

    People have rightly pointed out that a large component of endurance racing is nutrition. Crossfit endurance does NOT help you prepare for that aspect of competition.

    On to the good side.....

    I find that when I'm trained with crossfit endurance , my recovery time from longer rides is significantly shorter. I also only need to train 10 or so hours a week and can do so almost anywhere . That became a huge advantage when I was in graduate school or traveling 2 weeks a month for work.

    There are other benefits for me, like being able to throw on a pack and go for an 80 mile hike or go home and work on the farm for a couple days without being wrecked.

    For what it's worth, I'll be giving the Friel methodology a shot this year. It's only my third season of endurance racing, and I honestly expect to perform better, if for no reason than I'm finally getting my bike fit and nutrition dialed.

    I'll probably go back to crossfit once I move closer to a gym with competent coaches. The lack of quality coaching is a serious issue and I refuse to go to a gym where proper form and saftey aren't emphasized. For someone like me, for whom endurance racing is only one part of an active lifestyle , it's a fantastic methodology to be ready for anything, including when a buddy calls you up for a 12 hour race next weekend.

    I've got more, but I promised I'd be quick....
    It's not about being better than others, it's about getting the best out of myself.

  20. #20
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    Been using CFE for a year

    About a year ago I read about Crossfit Endurance in a German MTB magazine. It grabbed my interest because for years I've only been riding my bike and I felt I had reached a plateau in strength and speed. I was doing 20 or more hours on the bike every week and doing a couple of 100 mile races and a 12 hour race each year. I found I was only good at riding - forget being able to swim, run, hike, climb, row, play tennis, or any other sport. CFE looked like a good way of becoming more rounded in strength - another incentive being to try a 1/2 ironman with a friend. I also found that all those hours on the bike were getting in the way of everything else I wanted to do and I felt pretty tired most days and not that healthy.

    Once I started CFE (following the CFE website Work Outs of the Days and working out at my local Y), within a few months I was amazed that my skinny bike riding body now had some decent upper body strength. I also found out how weak I actually was in the core and surprisingly, in the legs: back squatting my body weight multiple times was tough. However, my riding, now down to 2-3 hours a week did reduce my endurance capacity on the bike. (I was following the 3-sport regime, so was mixing the cycling with swimming and running). The biggest thing was the amount of time I now had at home with family and to spend doing other things. But, I think after a year, my endurance is now better than before and Iím way more energetic and generally just feel a lot more healthy because I'm more balanced.

    Early this year I did a 12 hour race and managed 9 miles less than the previous year but still placed, and then at the end of summer did a 100 miler after a 3 week vacation and managed that in an hour over the previous year, so was fairly happy. Not the miracle promised, but not bad for less than 9 hours a week training. And I was now capable of swimming and running. I also felt prepared for any kind of race Ė through in a Tough Mudder if you have the time for it.

    This year, Iím continuing the CFE WODs, but think Iím going to edit it somewhat just to bias more towards riding since the ironman thing is on a back burner. There is definitely a lack of long rides to prepare for nutrition and get one mentally prepared Ė CFE has you use races to prepare for this, but thatís an expensive proposition. I didnít find lack of saddle time to be an issue this year, because I was so much stronger I didnít have any problems being in the riding position for hours. This was something I was most afraid of, but it ended up being a non-issue.

    So Iím planning on cutting back on one of the WODs and substituting a long ride (3-5 hours) below race pace (youíll find most CFE workouts are close to max and above race pace Ė time trials, and killer intervals). I think thisíll balance out and provide me with what I felt was a missing ingredient this past year. Power wise, CFE is very effective: Iím now clearing obstacles on technical climbs that had me stumbling. With so much power and speed in reserve, I can just keep going when traction fails and Iíd normally stall in an out of breath heap. Itís made my favourite loop so much more exciting and enjoyable. Each time I head out there, Iím excited to see which previously impossible section Iíll be able to ride up next.

    One other thing to consider is your location. Iím stuck in a city. I canít get time to go out to trails except for a couple of times a month at most. I used to train on flat roads and cycle trails which are terribly boring. I would not do CFE if I lived where I could ride a mountain every day. Iíd ride and ride and ride. But CFE is a great tool to get me fit, on a limited time schedule, to participate in a sport I love when I can get to the hills, and have the capability to also do other sports. I also realized I saved a ton of money by not having to replace my drive chain, replace all the bike pivots, and service the suspension so often.

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